As a tourist destination, Vietnam is loaded with the attractions most international travellers dream of: lots of sun, gorgeous beaches, world-class scenery, friendly locals and fascinating history, opines VietNamNet Bridge.
Yet for all its advantages, the Southeast Asian nation possessing more than 3,000 kilometres of coastline with 125 major beaches has a problem attracting travellers to its shores.
Speaking at a recent travel forum in Ho Chi Minh City, an advisor to the City, Kieu Anh Vu, noted official statistics showed that the tourism segment contributed 4.6% (around US$7.9 billion) to the nation’s GDP in 2015. Yet a paltry 7.9 million international travellers came to Vietnam, a very small percentage of total arrivals in the booming Asia Pacific region and an even tinier fraction of the worldwide figures.
Vu sees a relatively benign problem at the root of the nation’s sluggish tourism performance, one demanding a seemingly simple solution.
The biggest reason for the low numbers of tourist arrivals is not lack of infrastructure, crime, pollution, negative reports in the international media or even the cost of flying into and staying in the country. The problem is the lack of awareness of Vietnam as a tourist destination.
To Vu, the failure of travellers to view Vietnam as a travel spot is the fundamental reason they have not visited the country and the solution rests in marketing to raise its tourism image.
Doan Manh Cuong from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism agreed. Awareness as a tourist destination is surprisingly low for Vietnam, Cuong noted, adding there are many reasons for this, but Vietnam largely remains a country to be discovered by most travellers.
In many markets, the failure to recognize Vietnam as a tourist destination is the biggest obstacle in attracting larger volumes of visitors to the country, echoed Noemie Robin from the French Consulate General in HCM City.